Fighting the Dunning-Kruger effect

Published — Updated © 2023 Daniel Friis

It’s interesting how, since we leave school, we don’t really capture what we learn. We learn on the job, but what do we really learn? How do we know, and how do we measure?

At one point, after nearly three years in a new and challenging job, I had the opportunity to take a break and reflect on what I’d experienced. I felt that I had learned a lot, but it was elusive. When I had to explain something I thought I’d learned and knew well, it was like holding sand between my fingers. The more I talked, the more it became clear to me that I didn’t fully understand the topic. I now suspect that it was the Dunning-Kruger effect in play.

That’s when I decided to try and capture my learnings and do so moving forward as I learn new things. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and uncover gaps in my knowledge, thereby actively helping me escape the Dunning-Kruger effect.

We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on our experience.

— John Dewey

I’ve chosen to capture my learnings in the format of ‘notes’ because what I write is not, and will not, be the objective truth. It is simply my observation of the world and what I reason from it.

Writing these notes helps me clarify my thinking; maybe they can help others too.

There will be typos, half-baked ideas, and opinions presented as facts here. I'm not a professional writer, and I'm not trying to be one. I'm writing these notes as an exercise to clarify my thinking and archive insights worth revisiting. If you find it useful, that's great. If you don't, that's fine too.